06 January 2009

The rules only apply to other people

Michael Walker is right when he draws this analogy to Danny Williams’ expropriation bill:

Under the terms of the monopoly that Mr. Williams eventually abandoned — in return, reportedly, for a couple hundred million dollars — Newfoundlanders in his area were compelled by force of federal law to use no other television delivery system than the one that Mr. Williams provided. Satellite dishes which brought “illegal” television signals to their owners also brought the RCMP to seize the illegal dishes and charge the owners. Now, presumably Mr. Williams would claim that he owned the license to exploit Newfoundlanders in this way and he had every right to sell it. In fact, he would probably agree that if there had not been a system of laws ensuring him of his right to sell the right to exploit he would not have invested the money in the monopoly in the first place. “To attract capital investment in such activities, governments have to create the rule of law to make the environment attractive for the investors,” he would have had to agree.

Poor Michael just misses the crucial point:  in Newfoundland and Labrador, the rules only apply to everyone else.  If Danny Williams had every been treated the way he treats other people, you’d never hear the end of the screaming and moaning.